March 22, 2017




Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487



Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707




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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.



Friday Night Fun Flicks!
Date: Friday, Mar. 24, Doors open at 5:30 p.m., Movie starts at 6:00 p.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Bring your blankets and pillows and relax while watching movies. Feel free to bring your own refreshments, all refreshments must stay in designated movie area. Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. FREE and open to the public. Sponsored by the Friends of the Oak Creek Public Library. CLICK HERE for more information!

Oak Creek Public Library

8040 S 6th St
Oak Creek, WI 53154

Evening in the Land of the Rising Sun at the UWM Planetarium
Date: Fridays March 24 through May 5, 2017, at 7 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Say konnichiwa to our Evening in the Land of the Rising Sun show. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking imagery of Japan through all four seasons as you learn about festivals and Japanese mythology. The show will be held in the planetarium Fridays at 7 p.m. from March 24 to May 5, 2017. Admission is $4. For more information, CLICK HERE!

UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium

1900 E Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

3rd Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt at The Academy of Performing Arts - Oak Creek
Sunday, April 2 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: There will be hundreds of candy-filled eggs for the kids to find. The Easter Bunny will also be there to take pictures with the kids! This is a FREE event and open to the community. Invite your friends and family! *Don't forget to bring a basket and your camera!* This is event is 100% indoors, where it's nice and warm! Pre-registration is a must! For more information, CLICK HERE!

The Academy of Performing Arts - Oak Creek

9160 South Pennsylvania Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154



Craft and Vendor Fair
Date: April 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Cudahy
Description: The Friends of Cudahy Library will be sponsoring a spring craft and vendor fair. Come shop for your favorite products while supporting the library. Come hungry! The Cudahy Lions Club will be offering a brat fry. Free drawing for a $100 Visa card! CLICK HERE for more information!

Cudahy Family Library

3500 Library Ave
Cudahy, WI 53110

CHI Franciscan Villa Childcare Easter Bunny Event
Thursday, April 13, 5:30 p.m. 7 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Take a picture with the Easter bunny, dye an Easter egg, decorate an Easter cookie & more!
Call Stacy for questions at: 414-570-5410.

CHI Franciscan Villa Child Day Care Center

3601 S Chicago Ave
South Milwaukee, WI 53172

13th Annual Eggs-travaganza
Date: Sat., April 15 at 9 a.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Join the fun at the 13th Annual Spring Eggs-travaganza scheduled in the children's play area of Riverside Park. Meet at Oakland Ave and Newberry Blvd. Bring your containers, cameras, smiles, kids and grandkids for our annual egg hunt.
Several thousand eggs are "hidden" for the hunt, including traditional colored eggs, plastic eggs filled with candy, and special ceramic and paper mache eggs produced by the artists at Murray Hill Pottery. The Eggs-travaganza is sponsored by the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, Murray Hill Pottery Works, Walgreens and the Upper East Side Business Improvement District. CLICK HERE for more information!

Riverside Park

1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211



Kohl's Art Generation Gallery: Paper Play: Kindergarten to Contemporary Art

Date: Ongoing -- the gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday until 8 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Art Museum invites families to come and explore the innovative use of paper by contemporary artists, who use this humble material in simple ways --folding, weaving, cutting, and stacking -- to make extraordinary works of art. Families can explore the possibilities of paper by creating a sculpture, a colorful weaving, and a mysterious scene in four different activity stations. The Kohl's Art Generation Gallery brings art and creativity to kids and their families through family-friendly, hands-on activities.

CLICK HERE to learn more.

Milwaukee Art Museum

700 N. Art Museum Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

I hope you are enjoying your first official week of Spring and the ride our Badgers are on in the NCAA.

This Monday, I will be hosting a town hall meeting with Rep. Sinicki and Rep. Brostoff to discuss the state budget and other important state and community issues. See below for further details -- I hope you are able to make it!

In this week's Larson Report, we will discuss the education budget in greater detail, including the news that broke this week. We will also go over an alarming proposal snuck deep into the governor's budget bill that hasn't received attention yet that would reverse decades of progress in rooting out discrimination in the workplace.


In Service,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7


Community Conversation

In order to gather input and hear concerns from neighbors about the budget and other state and community concerns, I will be holding a town hall meeting with Representatives Sinicki and Brostoff. Details are below.

Budget Listening Session
Monday, March 27, 2017
6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Location:
Cudahy Family Library
3500 Library Ave
Cudahy, WI 53110

Let us know you'll be there by connecting with us on Facebook. Don't forget to invite your friends, family, and neighbors, too!


Walker's Desperation Budget

After years of intentional underfunding, there is no doubt that our neighborhood schools are worse as a result of Governor Walker and legislative Republicans.

The governor is seeing his dismal approval ratings plaguing him like a dark cloud. He is now in a moment of desperation, grasping to reconnet to with those he has neglected for years. Over the past two budget cycles, Walker has slashed and burned our children's educational opportunities. As a result of his schemes, Walker has seen his approval plummet as parents, students, and educators have voiced their frustrations and concerns.

Walker is now standing at a crumbling crossroads. After years of neglect, Walker must desperately try to appease the every day Wisconsinite as he looks to run for a third term. After years of choosing to wine and dine his campaign donors over our kids, Walker's feeble attempt too toss crumbs to our starved local, neighborhood schools is too little and too late.

Walker Giving Wealthiest Districts More
Don't be fooled by Walker's so-called increase in education funding. While on face value it would appear our schools are getting an extra $200 per student in the 2017-2018 school year, and $404 per student the following school year, most of this $649 million proposal is being divided up using a different funding formula than in past years.

Instead of using the state's general aid formula, which considers property values in a district when determining how much state funding will go to each school, Walker is proposing the state allocates education funding on a flat per pupil payment.

As a result, children in Wisconsin's wealthiest districts will receive more as a percentage than children from districts with a greater proportion of low-income families. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, school districts where less than one third of the students are from low-income families would receive an average increase of 6.3% in funding over the course of the budget whereas school districts where more than two-thirds of the students are low income would receive an average of just 3.6%.

In short, the funds coming from the state won't be going where they're needed most and will instead widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots in Wisconsin.

Read the Wisconsin Budget Project analysis, here.

It's important to note that more and more of our communities are passing referendums to try and make up for the out-of-touch, irresponsible disinvestment in our schools that jeopardizes the future of our children. In fact, when voters are asked to pick up state's tab to provide basic support for their local schools, 80% of the time they say 'yes.' For example, the Wisconsin Budget Project notes that the amount approved in 2016 for increases in revenue limits that continue indefinitely was more than the amount approved in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 -- combined. And the amount of new borrowing that voters approved in 2016 is more than the amount approved in 2013, 2014, and 2015, all combined. This is not a sustainable path and it's irresponsible for the state not to step in to correct it.

Read more about the record passage of referendums, here.

Unfortunately, some of our distressed neighborhoods have been economically squeezed dry and simply cannot fill the funding gap. They need state legislators to provide all schools with their fair share of funding. Sadly, by changing the way that our resources are distributed and not fully recommitting our state investment, this budget falls short of providing real opportunities for each child in Wisconsin.

Also alarming is that the budget does not provide for any increases in special education reimbursement for schools. This is of further concern when considering that under the governor's budget, districts would not be allowed to use the state money to support centrally-funded services like student transportation or special education. In past legislative sessions, I have introduced legislation to increase special education reimbursement so children with special needs are able to receive a quality education. I will be reintroducing this legislation this session.

Additionally, Walker's budget continues a destructive pattern of siphoning scarce public dollars from our public schools to private, for-profit voucher schools.

More Money for Voucher Schools
As the state budget discussion continues to advance, Wisconsinites must make their voices heard so that their government works for them. It is alarming to think by the end of this next budget cycle, a student in kindergarten when Governor Walker introduced his first budget in 2011 will be moving on to high school. Throughout that critical time that student has seen their value diminish through the largest cuts to K-12 education in state history, all while their thoughtful teachers-who somehow became a scapegoat during the financial crisis-saw their livelihoods attacked.

Our neighbors deserve a budget that reflects our shared values that benefit the kids that need it most, not just a chosen few. In addition, we must establish transparency in voucher school funding. Representative Wachs and I introduced legislation to provide a factual breakdown of public school funds being siphoned off to voucher schools clearly identified on your annual property tax statements. It's common sense, and it's long overdue. Transparency used to gather bipartisan support, especially when increasing public awareness of where your money is going. This is needed more that ever after the news this week.

In a never-ending plot to privatize our K-12 public education system, Governor Walker's 2017-2019 budget is handing out even more taxpayer dollars to for-profit, unaccountable voucher schools. According to a memo released by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state budget will hand an average of nearly $1000 more per pupil to voucher school operators than to our own neighborhood public schools. This new giveaway will set a record high for the state with a cost of $546.1 million to taxpayers in just one budget.

To be clear, this is careless spending that isn't improving our kid's education or even fulfilling the original promises made when the system was created 26 years ago.

Voucher schools are not required to provide the state with the same student proficiency data as public schools or serve students with special needs. In fact, with this free cash flow of public dollars, many schools have a nasty tendency to repeat the worst conduct: they kick kids out after they get their taxpayer subsidy, they screen out hard-to-teach kids, they don't have diligent public oversight, and still, most of them can't even compete with our best public schools.

This massive push to tear apart our public education system is compounded by the fact that Governor Walker has also included a provision that prohibits the Department of Instruction from asking for proof of financial viability before handing over our hard-earned tax money to unaccountable voucher operators. You read that right. What could more clearly demonstrate the governor's willingness to give away our money to his campaign donors, even if it means leaving the door open for more bad actors to grab our tax dollars only to close-up shop a few weeks later? This is a problem because, from 1991 to 2015, four out of 10 voucher schools receiving state funds through the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program failed, closed their doors, and no longer exist. Overall, voucher startup schools fail at a stunning rate of 68%.

This damage has to end. I hope you will join me in demanding Walker and legislative Republicans fully invest in public education by restoring the funds cut these last six years and ask for transparency in where our public dollars are going.


Stripping Away Critical Family and Employee Protections

One of our neighbors recently contacted me with concerns that the state budget strips away discrimination protection laws and access to having cases of employment discrimination remedied.

Here is a bit of background regarding this issue and why our current laws are critically important. While employers can mostly hire and fire who they want, they cannot fire or refuse to hire or promote someone because of factors like their age, religion, race, or disability. Under Wisconsin's Fair Employment Act, workers who are discriminated against based on such factors have a right to seek justice and remedy by filing a complaint with the state's Equal Rights Division, which is part of the Department of Workforce Development.

In addition, if the employer is found to be guilty in their discriminatory practice, the worker can recover attorney fees, even if no other monetary award is given.

This is a critical component of our laws that was addressed in the Supreme Court case Watkins v Labor and Industry Review Commission of 1984. The court in this case recognized that few victims of discrimination would pursue a claim as many do not have extra money to hire an attorney. This is an important precedent, as it discourages employers from discriminating against their employees.

Walker Budget Strips Away Discrimination Protection Laws
Under the state budget proposal, even if the employer is guilty of discrimination, the victim would not be provided compensation for their attorney fees if no other monetary compensation is awarded in the case.

In the previously mentioned Watkins case, there was no monetary award beyond that awarded for the worker's attorney fees, since she was was seeking a transfer for a job with the same pay. The judge also ordered for the discriminatory practices on the part of the employer to cease. Under the governor's budget, the victim in this same case would not have been compensated for her attorney fees since there was no other compensation given.

Our employment safeguards can only work if there are consequences for violating them. 
Not only does the governor's budget gut this protection against discrimination, it goes so far as to further benefit and cater to employers who break the law.

Tucked away deep into the budget is a backwards provision that puts victims of discrimination on the hook for their employer's attorney fees. It does this by creating a "offer of settlement" provision in which an employer may serve an employee a settlement proposal as little as ten days after they file an equal rights complaint. If the employee does not accept the offer within ten days of its receipt, it is considered to be declined. If the employee proceeds with their case and does not receive "more favorable award" (see example below) from the court, they must pay the employers' attorneys' fees and costs from the date of their offer.

Read a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about this issue, here.

The neighbor who brought this issue to my attention provided this example: an employee who believes he has been terminated based on his age files an age discrimination complaint with the Equal Rights Division. Ten days after he files his complaint, the employer sends him an "offer of settlement" proposing to resolve all claims for a payment of $1,000. The employee does not believe the offer is fair or sufficient as he will have difficulty getting other employment and his back pay will be significantly more than the offer, and the offer does not include reinstatement. However, if he declines the offer he is putting himself at risk for having to pay not only his own attorneys' fees but also the employer's attorneys' fees if he does not receive a "more favorable award." The fees for the employer's attorney by the time the employee gets to a hearing could be tens of thousands of dollars. Faced with the risk of further financial ruin, few employees will be able to afford to pursue their claims and attorneys' advising such employees will be unable to represent them given the risk that their fees will not be paid either.

This budget measure, if passed, will essentially strip away access to crucial remediation at the state level for victims of discrimination. Just as Walker and legislative Republican's repealed Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement Act, they are now gutting protections that stop employment discrimination. Notably, there is another section of the budget that would create an identical rule for violations of Wisconsin's Family Medical Leave protections.

I know that this is an issue that will be important to many of our neighbors, which is why this week's Take Action section will provide a way for you to voice your concerns about this harmful budget provision.


Take Action: Don't Strip Away Discrimination Remediation

We must make sure Wisconsin workers have strong protections against employment discrimination.

Call or email the members of the Joint Finance Committee today and let them know you oppose the governor's changes to crucial discrimination safeguards under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act and the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act. Contact information for the Joint Finance Committee members is below.

Senator Darling (Co-Chair)
Phone: (608) 266-5830

Representative Nygren (Co-Chair)
Phone: (608) 266-2343

Representative Kooyenga (Vice-Chair)
Phone: (608) 266-9180

Senator Olsen (Vice-Chair)
Phone: (608) 266-0751

Senator Harsdorf
Phone: (608) 266-7745

Senator Marklein
Phone: (608) 266-0703

Senator Tiffany
Phone: (608) 266-2509

Senator Vukmir
Phone: (608) 266-2512

Senator L. Taylor
Phone: (608) 266-5810

Senator Erpenbach
Phone: (608) 266-6670

Representative Loudenbeck
Phone: (608) 266-9967

Representative Felzkowski
Phone: (608) 266-7694

Representative Born
Phone: (608) 266-2540

Representative Rohrkaste
Phone: (608) 266-5719

Representative Hintz
Phone: (608) 266-2254

Representative Shankland
Phone: (608) 267-9649


In Case You Missed It
Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and in our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
  • Don't Strip Away Access to Health Care
    This week, I signed onto a letter with my Democratic colleagues in the Senate and Assembly to Wisconsin's Congressional delegation sharing our serious concerns over Congressman Ryan's scheme to strip health care away from millions of our neighbors. The Republican plan looming at the federal level would cause insurance premiums to skyrocket and force 24 million Americans to lose their health insurance.

    In Wisconsin, 220,000 of our friends, family, and neighbors were able to access affordable health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Should Trump and Republicans at the federal level get their way, these individuals are at risk of losing their coverage and another 3.2 million individuals could see higher out-of-pocket costs.

    It is immoral to strip away access to lifesaving health care from our neighbors -- many of whom are seniors and individuals with disabilities. This week, disability advocates came to my office and spoke about some of the grave concerns they have over attacks on our health care system. One neighbor feared that should these changes go through, she could lose access to the lifesaving medicine and treatment she currently needs.

    We cannot go back to the failed system that returns our health care to the hands of profit-motivated insurance companies. Wisconsinites deserve better, which is why I am asking our federal representatives to do the right thing and push against any effort to take away affordable health care options. Read the letter, here.

  • Wisconsin Must Strengthen Workplace Safety and Flexibility, Not Weaken It
    Last week, legislative Republicans and Democrats demonstrated very clear differences when it comes to workplace safety and flexibility and strengthening families.

    Sen. Ringhand and Rep. Pope have proposed the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Insurance Act, which would ensure economic stability during times of need by allowing hardworking Wisconsinites to take paid leave - at no cost to employers - during a family illness or birth or adoption of a child.

    This is an important proposal that will strengthen our Wisconsin families, and I am proud to be a co-sponsor of it.

    In contrast, Republican's held a hearing this week on Senate Bill 11, which puts our children at risk by weakening Wisconsin's child labor laws that protect the health and safety of our children.

    This bill would eliminate a critical Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and parental permit process that was instituted to protect the health and safety of our children. Under our current laws, a child's parent or guardian, as well as DWD, sign off on a child's work schedule and conditions, ensuring it is safe and appropriate for them to do a particular job.

    Notably, DWD already has a process in place for work permits to be issued if a child does not have a parent or legal guardian.

    Senate Bill 11 removes important parental and community safeguards and endangers the health and wellbeing of our children.
    Wisconsinites expect a government that prioritizes policies that strengthen families and increases economic security and vitality. This week made it very clear on which legislative leaders hold these same shared Wisconsin values. Wisconsin can and must do better. See this Wisconsin State Journal article for more on the Republican bill.
  • Putting an End to Drunk Driving in Wisconsin
    A new report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), shows that in Wisconsin the usage of Ignition Interlock Devices (IIDs) effectively reduces drunk driving. IIDs prevent cars from starting if the would-be driver has a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit. The MADD report shows Wisconsin led the nation with interlock devices stopping almost 37,000 drunk driving attempts.

    This new report is further proof that the use of IIDs is successful in changing offenders' behavior. Last session, I introduced the Drunk Driving Prevention Act, which would have required all drivers convicted of an OWI to install an IID. This would have been a solid step forward in ending the fatalities, injuries, and property loss caused by drunk drivers, which is why I will be reintroducing this legislative idea this session. Read this news article for more information about the MADD report.

  • Assault on our Health and Environment
    The Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a hearing recently about the results of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau's (LAB) 2016 audit of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wastewater Permitting and Enforcement program.

    Through this program, Walker's DNR is supposed to be monitoring pollutant discharge into our surface and groundwater from factory farms, also referred to as CAFOs, and other pollution generating facilities.

    The LAB's audit revealed the shocking fact that the DNR has consistently failed in their duty to adequately inspect these CAFO polluters and what's even more appalling is that the DNR took no action on 94% of pollution violations.

    Rather than strengthening our ability to safeguard our shared lands and waters, Walker and legislative Republicans have dangerously diminished staffing and resources at the DNR, and this audit shows the damaging impacts of the governor and GOP choosing corporate polluters over our waters.

    This is an unacceptable assault on our health and environment. Share this Facebook post about the issue and also call Governor Walker today at 608-266-1212 and demand that his DNR hold these polluters accountable.


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